Wednesday, May 25, 2022 07:00 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, May 25, 2022 01:25 [IST]

Fury of Nature or Ego Factor

Dr. AALOC SRIVASTAV

We are mostly found wanting
Summer has set in early this year with heat wave continuing even after two months and occasional storms and pre monsoon showers affecting a major portion of North East, Sikkim, the Andamans, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Severe heatwaves, cyclones and mild to heavy rainfall was expected in days to come to provide respite from punishing and irritating heat waves.
Therefore evening dust storm, drizzle and hailstorm on 20th May, early morning strong wind at an average speed of 70 kms per hour and downpour for two hours in Northern India and N.C.R. on 23rd May, followed again by rain for two to three hours at night is likely to bring some relief  if fall in temperature by 11 degree Celsius is any indication. Such a rapid fall was last recorded in May in 2004.But past experience has shown that its impact may not last long. Fall in day temperature may not matter much.
Whether  State and District administration is ready to respond in time to make an assessment of impact over crops or Civic administration has woken up to meet the impending challenges, hardly get reported in the media . As a standard procedure, desilting and repair of storm water drains was to be completed by first week of May but same gets delayed year after year, leading to sudden flooding of low lying urban areas.
As concerned officials are found shirking responsibility time and again, we need to be stricter with them than before. Also unauthorised constructions will have to demolished at regular intervals to ensure promised amenities to those who pay through their nose.
Media Bias
Further, bias of media in reporting about blockage of surface and air traffic in such a situation becomes prominent.
Impact of such frequent climate changes and sudden bout of rise in prices of P.O.L. products on rising inflation hardly gets attention they deserve. As on date, 7.8% rate of retail inflation in the country is supposed to be highest in eight years. This is in addition to worsening unemployment scenario.
Mood or progress of Monsoon is very critical both to Indian agriculture and rural economy. As a result, knee jerk reaction in form of minor reduction in excise duty on petrol and diesel by Centre and a few state governments (Kerala, Maharashtra & Rajasthan)  will hardly make a difference. Claiming a "cut" on this account is unfortunate. Government of the day should not shirk its social responsibility even if a measure adopted results in some loss situation.  In such a game or gamble, small states tend to lose generally.
Economic issues deserve economic solutions rather than a decision with a political bias.
This needs to be understood not only in Indian context but also in respect of Pakistan and Sri Lanka which have already seen much worse situation vis-à-vis India. As far as last named country is concerned, no semblance of normalcy is emerging.
Davos World Economic Forum
That brings us to the convening of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. For the first time it is being held in a summer month owing to Covid-19.
Though tackling climate change is one of its five major agendas, others being pandemic recovery, building a better future for work, accelerating stakeholder capitalism and harnessing the technologies, so far in first three days, political matters mainly have drawn attention.
As expected, video address of President Zelensky of Ukraine was slated to make a profound impact on 2500 delegates. Same has happened already if we look at his fervent appeal to enhance trade embargo on Russia because of loss of tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens so far including 87 killed in a Russian air strike on May 17. It may be significant to note that USA, UK and Canada only are supporting ban on Russian oil and gas but not whole of E.U. is united over it.
China Factor
Nothing beyond a strong statement should be expected from an economic forum such as Davos. When UNO has failed to make a dent  thus far what can we expect from a gathering of essentially business and political elite that too at a time when the dates of this forum have already clashed with that of QUAD summit being held at Tokyo ?. But pressure by four major powers and thirteen other minor powers of Indian Ocean and Pacific region may not make a dent if China is determined in any of its missions. China will have its way.
(The writer is a former Chief Secretary, Government of Sikkim)

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi